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How to get the best out of Bordeaux Wine – Talent spotting for the future – Chateau des Fougeres Clos Montesquieu.

We sent Sarah, who deals with our research and development, to Bordeaux to check out new areas of interest. This is the third in this series of blogs about her voyage of discoveries . . .

Chateau Fougeres Clos Montesquieu

There are some amazing places tucked away in Bordeaux that turn out to be quite a revelation. If you’re a follower of this blog you’ll have often heard Nick refer to ‘Cinderella’ chateaux that have risen from the shadows of obscurity to bask in new found glory. Chateau des Fougeres Clos Montequieu is no Cinderella; if anything it is a ‘Sleeping Beauty’.

Newly awoken by Dominique Coutière, owner of Biolandes, this chateau has an aristocratic past and a bright future.

I was keen to visit the chateau for three reasons: the first being its wine (which is fairly new on the market – the first vintage under new ownership was in 2012), the second being its connection to Biolandes (a company which produces and supplies essential oils and extracts for perfumes and aromatherapy) and the third being its connection to Montesquieu (the French philosopher).

Side view of the chateau

The drive up to the chateau swings through a small park spaced with well-placed specimen trees. The grounds had a peaceful atmosphere and I had to resist the urge to explore – there was a feeling that made you think discoveries lay behind each new view. I shouldn’t have been surprised at such graceful settings for the gardens were developed by the Bordelaise nurseryman Jean Alphonse Escarpit (1829 – 1899) who helped to design the Jardin Public park in Bordeaux. The gardens had a note of familiarity, probably because Escarpit followed the ‘English-style’. He liked sweeping curves, bousquets (little groves) and the different tones of green and blue you can find in the foliage of trees and water. You get all of these at Chateau des Fougeres – the land gently undulates down from the chateau with trees standing like islands in the close-cropped turf. There are signs of old water features in the grounds and I wished I could have wandered about outside more. It’s very beautiful.

However the task in hand was a tasting of Graves and Pessac Leognan whites and reds held inside the chateau. Rather fitting as it happens, as Montesquieu was an ambassador for the local Graves wines – he did much to build their reputation throughout France and in Britain. Born into an aristocratic family Montesquieu was a lawyer, philosopher and satirist and became the first great French man associated with the Enlightenment. His theories later became an important part of the American Constitution.

Front view of the chateau

Inside, the chateau houses the Montesquieu’s family heritage and its decor hasn’t been altered in any way. When Dominique Coutière bought the chateau from Baron Montesquieu in 2010 he promised not to change anything. He did have to modernise the plumbing, electrics and heating systems. The pavillion tower roof held a huge water tank which fed down to household but this had to be removed because it leaked and flooded the house out. The central heating system was quite innovative for the time and was an oven in the cellars that piped hot air up to the floorboards above! The house is full of Second Empire furnishings and we were given a little tour round the rooms. Although steeped in history it still felt very much a family home.

Gaston de Montesquieu extended the chateau during the Second Empire

Chateau des Fougeres belonged to Montesquieu’s brother. Montesquieu himself lived a stone’s throw away at neighbouring Chateau La Brede and its said that two brothers used to wave at each other from the balconies on their chateaux. The estate is an old one, dating back to the 1500s, and is on the site of a medieval castle known as Milheras in the local dialect. The current chateau was once a Carthusian monastery and Gaston de Montesquieu used it as a hunting lodge. He was responsible for converting the rectangular charterhouse into the building we see today. He also gave it the name of Chateau des Fougeres – a French translation of Milheras, meaning ‘Chateau of the Ferns’. It’s always been a wine producing property and in 1756 it was owned by a Bordeaux wine merchant until it was brought back into the Montesquieu family fold in 1867. Gaston increased the size of the vineyard to nearly 200 acres and planted it with Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc. Today the vineyard covers 35 acres and is planted with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.

Chateau des Fougeres Clos Montesquieu, Graves

Dominique has the reputation of a man not used to doing things by half and is very ambitious for Chateau des Fougeres, in which he has invested heavily. The winemaking installations are constantly being improved in order to yield a product that is faithful to its soil and to its history.

The consultant oenologist who works with them on their reds is world renowned Stephane Derenoncourt and their whites are made by Olivier Bernard’s top flight team at Domaine de Chevalier nearby.

Dominique’s jump from essential oils to wine isn’t an odd leap to make. Perfume and wine have a lot in common: both rely on the ‘nose’ of their creator, be it the perfumier or the wine maker, and both use a process of transformation – from grape to wine and from flower petal to essence. There are plenty of precedents in Bordeaux; the most notable being Chateau Rauzan Segla which is held by the owners of the perfume ‘Chanel‘ and Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte’s ‘Caudalie’, which has a range of perfumes inspired by the fragrance of the grape flowers and vines.

Grand Vin label

Chateau des Fougeres produces two reds: Chateau des Fougeres Clos Montesquieu, AOC Graves and their Second Wine Rouge Fougeres (which translates as Red Fern). Being recently born (the final improvement plans for the vineyard come into effect this year, 2017) neither of these wines are much known in Europe and are only available at a few outlets. However, the world’s critics have already taken note and the 2012 vintage of the Grand Vin received a score of 92/100 from James Suckling and won a Silver Medal at the Concours de Vins d’Aquitaine.

Sleeping Beauty has awoken and although its price is reasonable at the moment (circa £15 – £20) I’d expect it to rise as word gets out.

Chateau Couhins Lurton Blanc, Pessac Leognan

Whites to note:
We tasted a range of wines in the airy dining room watched over by portraits hanging on old, red, faded silk wall-papered walls. I couldn’t help wondering if the resplendent gentlemen crowned with powdered wigs depicted in the pictures above us had quaffed the same wines long ago. They would have probably been astounded at the seriousness involved in tastings nowadays.

Chateau Le Sartre Blanc, Graves

The stand out white wine for me was Chateau Couhins Lurton – a pure Sauvignon Blanc from Graves. It was exquisite. My tasting notes on this white were circled with stars; it was by far the best white I tasted on the tour. The price is circa £20 – £25 a bottle. This chateau is part of a portfolio owned by the negociant Andre Lurton and their charming export director Laurent Belisaire had also brought Chateau La Louviere along for us to taste – another lovely white at around £18 – £20 a bottle. A branch of the large Lurton wine making dynasty, Andre Lurton’s portfolio is well worth looking at and you can find a list of their chateaux here.

I also enjoyed the white from Chateau Le Sartre. It was very modern in style and so fresh it reminded me of a white Burgundy; minerally and full of zesty green apple. Le Sartre was a well-known chateau in the 19th century and was rediscovered in the late seventies by the Perrin family, owners of Chateau Carbonnieux. It sits on good terroir between Chateau des Fougeres and Domaine de Chevalier in the Pessac Leognan AOC. Both red and white vary from £12 – £20 a bottle depending on the vintage and supplier.

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Alert on Loire White Wine Shortage

If you are a fan of Loire White Wines you may find they are increasingly difficult to get hold of at a sensible price in 2017 . . .

loire-frost
The Loire has seen the worst frosts in decades

The big freeze in France last spring saw the worst frost for 25 years. The Loire’s trade body, InterLoire, confirmed that there will be serious problems obtaining Loire wines and that there is growing concern over stock levels.

High consumer demand and a smaller harvest means there is less wine to go round. Thanks to the drop in production prices are set to soar.

Appellations in the Loire that were affected are:

Muscadet,
Pouilly Fume,
Chinon,
Sancerre,
Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil
Touraine
Pays Nantais

Although great swathes of the Loire were affected damage was very hit and miss depending on the micro-climates in each vineyard. Muscadet and Pouilly Fume were amongst the worst affected. Some wine makers lost up to 80% of the crop in Pouilly Fume but most losses in general were between 20-30%. The worst hit regions have said it has been a catastrophe. However appellations such as Cabernet d’Anjou, Rose d’Anjou, Cremant de Loire and Vouvray suffered less and should be able to meet demand.

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Champagne saw snow in April

One of the issues leading on from the frost damage has been the outbreak of Coulure (the dropping of flowers resulting in less grapes on a cluster), Millerandage (poor fertilisation resulting in small, seedless shot grapes) and Rot. Unusually the Sauvignon Blanc was affected, which is quite rare. Coupled with the drought in July/August all these issues have compounded the difficulties in harvesting good quality grapes, resulting in very reduced yields.

The Loire was not the only region to be affected by severe frost – Burgundy suffered its worst frost since 1981 with hailstorms leading to disaster in Chablis and Beaujolais. One Beaujolais wine maker said that the weather had been so awful ‘all that was missing was a plague of frogs’. Champagne has suffered too with snow falling in April and in the south Languedoc vineyards in Pic St Loup north of Montpellier were hit by hail stones the size of golf balls.

Official figures from the Ministry of Agriculture show 2016 as one of the worst years in three decades, with production down one third in Champagne and other key wine regions like Burgundy and the Loire valley almost as badly hit.

Thankfully we have excellent relationships with our producers and recently introduced three thrilling Loire Whites to the UK (details below). We are accepting orders on our website but if you would like to reserve some for yourselves by pre-ordering please contact me directly at nick.stephens@bordeaux-undiscovered.co.uk.

Les Roitelieres Muscadet, Sèvre et Maine – Silver Medal £9.99

les_roitelieres_muscadetNewly introduced to the UK by Bordeaux-Undiscovered, this refreshing silver medal winning Muscadet comes from the Sèvre et Maine, named for the two rivers which converge just outside Nantes near the Atlantic coast. This appellation is the most important region for high quality Muscadet. It lies near the far end of the Loire Valley and the climate is cooler here, dominated by the ocean. Crafted by the Loire specialists Bougrier, Les Roitelieres Muscadet is made from Melon de Bourgogne. This grape originated in Burgundy and is an offspring of Pinot Noir and a cousin of Chardonnay. The Bougrier vineyards lie in Le Pallet, one of three top Cru level villages on the banks of the river Sèvre.

Tasting Notes:
Clean, fresh, pure and racy; this style of wine makes Pinot Grigio hang its head in shame. Bright, appetizing flavours of lemon zest, green apple and pear with notes of lime blossom, freshly cut hay and anise. Beautifully delicate with flinty minerality and a hint of iodine. A classic wine to drink with oysters; it rivals Chablis when it comes to food pairing with shellfish.

Les Champs des Cris, Pouilly Fume, 2015 £15.99

Exclusive to Bordeaux-Undiscovered, Les Champs de Cris comes from the vineyards on rolling terrain near Boisgibault and embodies all the qualities of this venerated appellation. Pouilly Fume is famous for its universally recognisable aromas of smoke and wet slate; it’s one of the Loire’s most venerated wines. The little appellation sits around the town of Pouilly sur Loire opposite Sancerre on the bank of the upper Loire, close to Burgundy. The smoky aroma is attributed to the local terroir. The most famous soils here are Kimmeridigian limestone containing fossilised oyster shells and limestone clays peppered with flints. The local name for Sauvignon Blanc is ‘fume’ (smoke) and the distinctive aroma is known as ‘pierre a fusil’ which refers to the smoky smell of a fired gun when the flint is struck.

Tasting Notes:
Delicious, elegant Pouilly Fume with characteristic flinty mineral and smoky notes. A delicately sculpted palate with a vibrant core of grapefruit, green apple and gunflint laced with white currant and chamomile. Vivacious, crisp and beautifully balanced. Lovely purity with a long finish. Good cellaring potential.

Domaine Millet. Sancerre, 2015 £15.99

domaine_millet_sancerreExclusive to Bordeaux-Undiscovered this superb Sancerre is made by the Bougrier family who have specialized in the wines of the Loire Valley since 1885 (over 5 generations). The head of the family, Noel Bougrier, has long been an ambassador for Loire Valley wines and is president of the Syndicat of Loire Valley negociants. Their Sancerre vineyards lie on the chalky limestone hills looking down on the River Loire and its tributary the River Cher. Sancerre sits directly opposite the appellation of Pouilly Fume in the eastern part of the Loire. The town lies on an outcrop of the chalk that runs from the White Cliffs of Dover across to Champagne and on to Chablis in Burgundy. The Domaine Millet Sancerre is made from grapes grown on the area known as ‘Terres Blanches’ (the white ground) which refers to the layer of white fossil strewn soil covering the limestone slopes that gives this wine its deliciously dry chalky character.

Tasting Notes:
Citrusy, chalky Sancerre with remarkable depth. Cool, crisp and pure. Deep aromas of blackcurrant blossom with subtle herbaceous hints of lemongrass and lovage. Fresh flavours of lime, gooseberry and melon. Finely tuned, taut and vibrant with a lovely long lingering finish.

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What is Claret?

A customer recently contacted me after receiving his Claret and Cheese Gift Box querying that there was no mention of Claret on any of the bottle labels. The wines were Clarets so why don’t the French label them that? The reason is a simple one. Claret is the British name for Bordeaux Red Wine.

The only time you will see the word Claret on a label is when it has been specifically asked for by a British retailer as the French don’t refer to a Bordeaux Red Wine as Claret. Only the British do!

In the past Claret was much paler than today

The name Claret is derived from the word ‘Clairet’ which is what Bordeaux Reds were called back in the 13th century. We acquired a taste for them when Eleanor of Aquitaine married our Henry Plantagenet and they soon became our nation’s tipple of choice. Over time the British (who couldn’t get their tongue around the word ‘Clairet’) referred to them as Claret . . . which has now become the acceptable generic term for Bordeaux Red Wine.

You might be wondering why Bordeaux Reds were called Clairet way back then. Clairet means ‘clear’ in French and in those days Bordeaux Reds were much paler in colour than they are nowadays. Wine making techniques were fairly rudimentary in the past and wines were made quickly to avoid spoiling. During fermenting the grape skins (which contain the colour and tannins) were left only a short time in contact with the juice. These wines didn’t last long, and were usually drunk VERY quickly.

Over time Claret became darker

Jump forward a few hundred years to the 17th century and Bordeaux Reds started to get darker thanks to improved wine making techniques and barrel ageing. As time progressed Clarets became the deep red that we recognise today!

So, if you spot a Red Wine with AOC Bordeaux anywhere on the label, it’s a Claret!

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How to get the best out of Bordeaux Wine – Where the bee sips, there sip I. Why you should check out Petit Chateaux.

We sent Sarah, who deals with our research and development, to Bordeaux to check out new areas of interest. This is the second in this series of blogs about her voyage of discoveries . . .

bee-annicheYou might think that the famous chateaux of the Medoc have cornered the market as the trailblazers of Bordeaux wines but you’d be wrong. Beneath the parade of grand chateaux and their much fanfared labels lies a power-house of energetic smaller producers steadfastly working to create their own masterpieces. These producers don’t often get their wines trumpeted about in the British press; nor do they get flashy write ups about their splendid chateaux.

Tasting-room-anniche
Tasting room at Chateau Anniche

More often than not you’ll find the smaller producers’ wineries are part of an old farmhouse. You may not feel as if you are walking on hallowed ground when you visit one (there are no splendidly furnished rooms or imposing architecture to goggle at) but instead you are very much aware that you’re entering into the beating heart of a workplace. A place buzzing with purpose and vigour. There’s a strange timeless feeling pervading the atmosphere as you realise that these people are following the same path as their grandparents before them. This is a place of wine. And if you have got it right; it’s a place of very good wine indeed.

anniche-sign
Anniche lies at the north end of the Cadillac AOC

Chateau Anniche is such a place. My visit there turned out to be quite a revelation and it’s made a lasting mark on me. We visited Anniche on Day 1 of my trip to Bordeaux and were still acclimatising to the intense heat. Stepping out from the blazing sunshine into the cool sanctuary of the little tasting room we were greeted by Lyndsey and Jean Luc Pion, and their son Pascal, the Maitre de Chai.

anniche-maitre
Pascal Pion – Maitre de Chai

Chateau Anniche is such a place.  The Pion family have been making wines at Anniche since Napoleonic times and made their own wine barrels up until 1914. You can see that beyond the neat, whitewashed winery and ultra modern chai much older buildings sit clustered about. The land here stretches away under blue skies over ranks of vines growing on clay and limestone soil containing siliceous rock (quartz, chalcedony and flint).

anniche-vines
Vineyard at Anniche

Anniche is located in Haux right at the north end of the Cadillac appellation which sits along the right bank of the River Garonne. The Pessac Leognan appellation is directly opposite Haux on the other side of the river. Haux is known for its 12th century romanesque church and was on the ancient route of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage. The wonderful Abbey of La Sauve Majeure, just over a mile up the road from Anniche, was an important monastery and major halt for pilgrims up until the French Revolution.

Haux is a quiet place today though – few vehicles travel the road – and at Anniche the silence was only broken by the drone of bees and grass hoppers in the vineyard.Lyndsey keeps bees and the hives lie on the edge of the acacia wood and along the flowery meadows. Their honey is sold locally either direct from the cellar or via the Tourism Office and markets of Cadillac and Creon. Bees aren’t the only creatures in the vineyards, there are chickens and pigs – as well as visitors such as cattle egrets and roe deer. In 2014 tawny owls took up temporary residence in the chai.

pascal-olaf
Pascal and Olaf

Lyndsey tells me that the family think that the place name ‘Anniche’ is derived from a parcel of vines belonging to the property called ‘la niche’. ‘La niche’ in old French refers to a place where animals were sheltered. On looking up the origins of the word ‘niche’ I had to smile as in the 14th century it meant ‘dog kennel or recess (for a dog)’ and this is rather fitting . . . as Pascal’s loyal companion is Olaf, the wine dog. Olaf is a giant, he is huge! I think he must be a Leonberger – a massive, lion-like, breed of working dog. Lion-like he may be, with his shaggy mane and sandy coat, but he is gentle and pines when Pascal has to leave him. When we trooped into the Pion’s tasting room he stretched his vast body out and bowed a greeting, had a friendly sniff and pat on the head from everyone, and then accompanied us on our tour of the chai and vineyard.

Olaf
Olaf

The Pion’s vines cover an area of 72 hectares (177 acres) and are planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc for their red wines. Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle are grown for their dry and sweet whites. Some of their Semillon vines are 122 years old. Pascal says that in the old days the whole village only ever produced sweet whites. Semi Sweet whites (moelleux) are Pascal’s passion but, as he says, you have to be a little nuts to make them. They are a labour of love; not only is Semillon the last grape to be harvested but it takes an inordinate amount of time to harvest it. Grapes have to be picked in order of ripeness and it can take an awful lot of grapes to make just one golden glass of sweet wine. To give you an idea, it’s said in Sauternes that Chateau d’Yquem produces only one glass of wine per vine.

The Pion’s pure nectar:

Anniche's Bordeaux Moelleux: Chateau Haut Roquefort
Anniche’s Bordeaux Moelleux: Chateau Haut Roquefort

Having tasted Pascal’s sweet white, Chateau Haut Roquefort (made from 100% Semillon), I can well understand his passion. It’s beautiful . . . a dark honied colour, tasting of nectar with a twist of bitter orange. Full of zesty acidity in the mouth, this style of wine is far from sticky or cloying . . . as my companions from the wine trade found out. Moelleux turned out to be one of their highlights and proved to be a real eye opener for some.

anniche-haut-roquefort
Chateau Haut Roquefort

Sweet white Bordeaux has hit the foodie radar recently with all sorts of delicious pairings being suggested, however I can’t wait to try Chateau Haut Roquefort with its namesake – the blue cheese Roquefort. It’s the classic partner for this style of wine. It could be a marriage made in heaven.

anniche-white
Chateau Anniche Blanc

The dry white, Chateau Anniche, is also predominantly Semillon but is blended with Sauvignon Blanc which brings a certain freshness and Muscadelle which adds potent floral aromas. I found it to be very smooth; quite a deep wine with flavours of lychee laced with lemon. I asked Lyndsey if she would send samples so that Nick could taste their range and he was most impressed. The dry white Chateau Anniche’s quality was so good Nick placed it on a par with the dry whites being produced from the Sauternes Grands Crus Classes. Needless to say these fashionable whites carry an expensive price tag; whereas Anniche’s dry white does not.

anniche-rose
Anniche’s Rose: Chateau Lalande Meric

The Pion’s also produce a brilliant Rose: Chateau Lalande Meric. On such a brutally hot day this was certainly the most refreshing wine from their range – a pale salmon pink, delicately tasting of strawberry with melony undertones. As a taster you have to swirl, sip and spit . . . this was one of those wines that made me regret having to do so. We didn’t drink it chilled but it was so balanced and smooth it made me wish I could sit there in the shade and sup the lot.

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Chateau Lalande Meric

Pascal talked of how Bordeaux Rose has changed over the past few years. Of course the Bordelaise have been making it for centuries but these days the demand is for paler and paler Rose. This is something Nick commented on in January (see What wines to watch out for in 2016 – Are our tastes changing?) and Pascal said that whereas they used to let the Rose soak on the must for 2 – 4 days (to soak up colour and flavour from the grapes) now they only allow 2 – 4 hours. The trick here is to achieve a wine with all the flavour and aroma that make it so attractive whilst keeping it on the must as short a time as possible to achieve the paler colour.

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Chateau Anniche Bordeaux Claret

The Reds are Premier Cotes de Bordeaux and were wines I was looking forward to tasting. Nick has already highlighted the fact that you can find good clarets around the Cadillac appellation and Anniche’s Reds have a lovely tannic backbone; tasting of blackberry and prune with mint overtones.

It just goes to show that there is so much more to Bordeaux if you scratch beneath the surface. The wines we see here on supermarket shelves aren’t representative of the Bordeaux the French know and love. We miss out on so many little treasures. I was over the moon that Chateau Anniche was the first winery visit on our trip as it is exactly the place that Nick looks out for: A small producer who tries to associate modernity with tradition, judiciously applying new scientific methods where they can to help mediate with Nature and the elements in order to produce delicious wines in complete harmony with the environment. It was wonderful to experience it for myself first hand and my only regret is that I forgot to buy a jar of their honey!

You can find Chateau Anniche’s website and they also have a great Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/VignoblesPion/

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How to get the best out of Bordeaux – Part 1: Beginning a voyage of discoveries

We sent Sarah, who deals with our research and development, to Bordeaux to check out new areas of interest. This is the first in this series of blogs about her voyage of discoveries . . .

Limestone in Lussac reflecting the sun's glare
Limestone in Lussac reflecting the sun’s glare

Nothing beats being in Bordeaux and I went at the beginning of September, just when the grape harvest was looming and Bordeaux was brimming with possibilites. It was hot (34°) and dry, with the land baking under deep blue skies. The chance to see this extraordinary wine making region in action was too valuable to miss as it was an excellent opportunity to identify new areas of interest. Exquisite cuisine, beautiful countryside and fascinating company came as an added bonus. The itinerary had caught our attention as it covered a couple of corners in Bordeaux that Nick had earmarked for investigation. So (armed with a sensible pair of shoes, a notebook and a list as long as your arm) I set off on a voyage of exploration.

Hotel Le Normandie, Bordeaux
Hotel Le Normandie, Bordeaux

Our group was made up of an interesting mix of professionals, with varying knowledge of Bordeaux wines, including Naked Wines, The Wine Society, Virgin Wines, Laithwaites, Asda and Goedhuis. We were guided by Alexander Hall, an old acquaintance of Nick’s, who runs Vineyard Intelligence and also teaches at the Bordeaux Wine School. Alex has lived in Bordeaux since 2004 and has a wealth of experience gained from working on his family’s estate in Marlborough, New Zealand as well as with several estates in Bordeaux. The trip was impeccably organised by Katherine Parsons of Summit SP (the promotion agency for Bordeaux Wine), and Marie-Christine Cronenberger of the CIVB (Bordeaux Wine Council).

Steep street in Saint Emilion
Steep street in Saint Emilion

Bordeaux just breathes wine, there is evidence of it everywhere you look. The trip was intense, involving early starts and late nights jam packed with chateaux visits. Thankfully we travelled in an air conditioned minibus. I think I was the oldest person there and if not, after 3 days of nonstop wine worshipping, I certainly felt it. But it was so worth it.

You get to see the wines in context; where they are born, deep in the lap of the land. We were whisked up twisty roads on hillsides dusted with vineyards and we travelled across the seas of vines that radiate out from the stately chateaux of the Medoc. We saw snapshots of Bordeaux that brochures can not give you; from sleepy hamlets snoozing in the sun to shady alleys in the city quietly oozing history. Beneath the serenity, behind closed doors, the wine industry was busy bustling.

Vines under scorching sunshine
Vines under scorching sunshine

We were whirled into a wonderland that gave us access to an amazing amount of wine tasting. At the end of it I didn’t know whether I could face another sip – I don’t know how Nick manages to taste his way through the hundreds of wines offered at Bordeaux’s En Primeur tastings every year!

I came back to the UK armed with a lot of useful tips on how to get the best out of Bordeaux for your money that I can share with you on Nick’s Blog – so watch out for the next instalment. I found some eye opening wines, unexpected gems in obscure appellations and some truly inspiring wine makers. I also came back with blisters on my feet but that’s the price you pay for getting over excited in Saint Emilion . . .

Itinerary

This is an abridged version of our itinerary so you can see what I will be covering in the next few blogs.

Narrow Bordeaux street
Narrow Bordeaux street

Day 1

Bordeaux Wine course at the Bordeaux Wine School

Lunch at the Gordon Ramsay restaurant Brasserie Le Bordeaux (Theme Bordeaux Dry White Wine) with Estelle Roumage of Chateau Lestrille, Agnes Bousseau of Chateau de l’Hurbe and Camille Alby of (meet with Agnès Bousseau) and Camille Alby of negociant Passion des Terroirs (Lucien Lurton & Fils).

Visit and tasting at Chateau Anniche (AOC Bordeaux Superieur, Rose, Liquoreux, White).

Visit, tasting and dinner at Chateau des Fougeres, Clos de Montesquieu (AOC Graves). Tasting: AOC Graves and Pessac Leognan (Red and White).

Day 2

Walking tour of the city of Bordeaux.

Visit, tasting and lunch at Chateau Laroze (AOC Saint Emilion Grand Cru Classe). Tasting: AOC Saint Emilion and Saint Emilion satellite AOCs (Reds).

Visit and tasting at Chateau Tour de Grenet (AOCs Lussac Saint Emilion, Lalande de Pomerol, Saint Emilion, Bordeaux Superieur). (Reds).

Walking tour of Saint Emilion.

Visit, tasting and dinner at Chateau le Lau (AOC Graves de Vayres). Tasting: AOC Cotes de Bordeaux: AOCs Graves de Vayres, Castillon, Blaye, Bourg, Francs, Premieres Cotes. (Reds and Whites)

Day 3

Visit, tasting and lunch at Fifth Growth Grand Cru Classe Chateau Batailley (AOC Pauillac). Tasting: AOC Medoc: Pauillac, Margaux, Saint Julien, Saint Estephe, Haut Medoc, Medoc, Listrac, Moulis, Crus Bourgeois. (Reds).

Visit and tasting at Chateau La Peyre (AOC Saint-Estephe – Cru Artisan). (Reds).